Project Mercy: Mar. 3-Electricity a scarce resource - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Project Mercy: Mar. 3-Electricity a scarce resource


When I get back to La Crosse, I owe my co-workers Dustin, Alex, and Howard a huge hug. Before I left the sent me off with a travel gift basket. I’ve used everything they gave me. The most precious item is by far the flashlight. Electricity or rather a lack of electricity is a huge problem here in Ethiopia. The power goes out up to four times a day; sometimes for a few minutes sometimes for hours. This afternoon someone knocked down a power pole. Not only does someone have to put the pole back up, but someone has to fix the line. We might not have power for a couple of days. That means no lights, no flushing toilets, and sporadic running water. If we have water enough water pressure to shower it’s going to be ice cold! There is a generator at the hospital. It’s only used during surgery. If the power doesn’t come back on my tomorrow afternoon Mark and I will have to bring most of our equipment there. We only have two fully charged batteries. This computer is also down to 7%. Keep your fingers crossed.

The power also went out today in the OR. The team has just put a two-week-old baby boy to sleep; talk about bad timing. Iyad, the Gundersen anesthesiologist didn’t bat an eye. He turned on a small generator and oxygen tank and used a manual bag to deliver air to the little boy. The power came back on less than a minute later.

Losing power is just one of the many challenges the team must overcome. The hospital here in Yetebon is by Ethiopian standards modern, but it’s doesn’t compare to our facilities in La Crosse. There are no fancy diagnostic tools or machines, few medicines to reduce pain, and no specialists. The docs and nurses working here are amazing problem solvers. They do what they can with the supplies they have. There is one other thing you won’t find in an Ethiopian OR, but it is not missed by the Gundersen team; paper work. If a patient needs a procedure and the team can do it they do. There is no such thing as a referral and you will never, ever have to appeal to an insurance company. They don’t exist. Here; doctors do what they love to do; practice medicine.

We’ve seen so much here in Ethiopia and learned so much about the people. They are strong, and faithful, and despite having so little, they are joyful. Their faith is also strong. It’s the dry season now; a rough time for not only the people here who need water, but crops and animals too. They often pray for rain. Tonight their prayers were answered. It’s pouring. Laying here in my room, the sound of rain hitting the tin roof sounds like a beautiful orchestra. I’m down to 2% battery now. Tonight I’m praying for power.

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